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In his eighth season as skipper for the San Diego Padres, manager Bud Black finds his team with a 22-27 record in the 2014 season, and near the bottom of the NL West division. While the Friars hitting troubles mostly continue, and the team struggles to puts W’s into the win/loss column, the 2010 NL Manager of the Year may be on the chopping block.
Some Padres fans may have finally had enough, and if the Friars fail to win their current series against the Chicago Cubs, who boast the worst record in baseball, and against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks, things could get very shaky for Bud Black. It has been a season of struggles for the Padres, especially at the plate where they rank last in runs, batting average and on-base percentage. Constant lineup changes, tinkering with the batting order, and an overall failure to put runs on the board have Friars fans getting antsy, and calls to oust the manager have begun in Southern California.
In his eighth season with the Padres, Bud Black’s overall record is 562-622, good enough for a .475 winning percentage. He has managed to eclipse the .500 mark in just one season. It has been up and down for the former left handed pitcher, and now that he finds his team barely holding their head above water, he is in the uncomfortable position of having to answer difficult questions from the local media. While it is difficult to place all of the blame on the shoulders of the manager, excuses which point back to injuries feel more like an act of denial from Padres fans than anything else. Injuries happen and players go through slumps. In the end, however, if a team is not winning, the majority of the blame will be dropped upon the manager. He is the skipper, the leader of the ball club, and if there are consistently more L’s in the win/loss column, it is expected that torch-wielding fans will be swarming the chopping block, calling for some heads to roll.
Some fans believe that Padres ownership has not done enough to put a winning team on the field for Black, failing to provide him with the payroll needed to win games. Other teams which hover right around the $90 million mark, however, like the Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics, are having great success this season. Payroll and the inability of Padres ownership to either hold onto, or bring in, big time players unquestionably put the Friars at a disadvantage against teams like the Dodgers and Giants, but it should not be the main factor and reasoning behind their failure to win games.
All of the blame should not be placed upon the head of Bud Black, since it’s the players who have failed to go up to the plate and put the ball in play. When losing begins to snowball, however, and the ship begins to sink, the skipper always gets thrown onto the chopping block. He is the one who will go down. The manager becomes the scapegoat, and new blood is brought in to temporarily stop the bleeding. It often becomes a viscous cycle of revolving doors, with no one exactly sure how to sew up the wounds. For now the Padres can look ahead to the next five games against the Cubs and Diamondbacks. Bud Black probably needs to win at least three of these next five games. Anything less and he might find a city of fans, who have stood so closely behind him, suddenly turn and call for him to be ripped from the sinking ship.
Commentary by Johnny Caito